The European Space Agency Confirms The Hera Anti-Asteroid Project

Hera is the newest mission of ESA (the European Space Agency), and it has the aim to “turn asteroid deflection into a well-understood planetary defense technique.” ESA, in a partnership with NASA, will ship a bunch of spacecraft to a double-asteroid system entitled Didymos.

First, NASA will smash its DART probe into the smaller asteroid, Didymoon, at a speed of approximately 13,320mph. An Italian cubesat named LICIACube will record the event. Hera will get there later to map the collision and examine the asteroid’s volume. Moreover, it will transport two CubeSats that can travel very close to the asteroid’s ground before reaching it.

The CubeSats will perform like drones, apprehending significant data about the impact crater and offering scientists information such as the mass of the asteroid that will help them find out its structure.

The European Space Agency Confirms The Hera Anti-Asteroid Project

Didymoon orbits its more prominent companion, and scientists should be capable of measuring DART’s influence on its trajectory, even if it’s little. The smaller asteroid is estimated to have the size of the Great Pyramid, meaning that it could crash a whole city if it struck Earth.

The mission, however, is not all easy because both asteroids are small, and no spacecraft has ever reached such small space objects before. Holger Sierks, from Max Planck Institute, expressed his thoughts about the Hera mission and the importance of it. He stated, “We really need to follow carefully [around 2,000 near-Earth objects] so as not to join the collection of wonderful dinosaurs here in Berlin.”

Hera (after the Greek goddess of marriage) is the candidate for the European Space Agency mission. It will also be Earth’s first probe to meet with a binary asteroid system, and a not-so-well understood group, making up almost 15 % of all known space objects. We’re going to find out more about it, and how successful it was the mission.

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  1. It is unlikely that the kinetic impact will work because of the internal structure of near-Earth asteroids is crumbly: “We think they’re very loose aggregates. They’re not solid through and through” said Melissa Morris, OSIRIS-REx deputy program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The detailed photos and probe impacting of Bennu and Ryugu reveal rubble-pile natural properties of the NEOs, which will prevent shock wave propagation and proper impulse transfer. Therefore, AIDA will not be an anti-asteroid, but an “anti-budget” mission, unfortunately.

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